3 hours lecture, 3 credits
The secret of life, explains the sacred tavern-keeper Siduri in an ancient Sumerian epic, is that there is no secret. "When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping", he tells the king Gilgamesh. "Fill your belly with good things, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man." This course will in some ways defy the strictures of Utnapishtim in returning to the questions that rest at the centre of world mythology. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What is the nature of the cosmos? What is the relationship between the individual, the family, the community and the transcendent? How are life and death intertwined? We will discuss such questions in a philosophical context but the thrust of the course will be to use an historical and comparative framework that analyzes particular mythic traditions. Rather than attempt to encompass all of world mythology within a one-term course, we will focus upon the myths of Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Northern Europe, Mesoamerica and the Pacific Northwest as case studies.
- C in one of Provincial English 12, ENG 060, ENG 096, ENG 098, or ESL 090; or placement testing.
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